Tiger injured in poacher's trap to get prosthetic paw thanks to first surgery of its kind
A tiger who was injured in a poacher's trap will be given a prosthetic paw in the first operation of its kind.
The seven-year-old cat named Sahebrao was rescued in the Chandrapur district of India in 2012 and was relocated to the Wildlife Rescue Center at the Gorewada Zoo in Nagpur. He later developed gangrene and had to have part of his left leg amputated, according to The Indian Express.
For last six years, Sahebrao has been living with increasing pain. Determined to help the animal, Sushrut Babhulkar, a Nagpur-based orthopedic surgeon, adopted the cat and has been working with experts, including Dr. Peter Giannoudis from the University of Leeds in the U.K., to explore the possibility of creating an artificial limb.
"I wish to see him walk normally, like a human being getting a prosthetic leg, for the rest of his life," Dr. Babhulkar told The Indian Express.
In February, the team completed a radiographic study of Sahebrao's limb, and on Wednesday, they operated on him to help relieve the neuralgia (nerve pain), according to Babhulkar.
"Now we will be able to fix the prosthetic limb within three to four weeks…the limb will be manufactured in Nagpur. We have taken all the necessary measurements," he said.
The tiger population in India has been on the rise thanks to nationwide conservation efforts.
According to figures released by the Indian Government in July, there has been a 30% increase since 2014, with the number of tigers in the country rising to 2,967 from 2,226, The Telegraph reports. India is home to 70% of the world's tiger population.
Poaching, along with heightened human-tiger contact due to an increasing human population, are the primary threats to the animal. But the Indian government has made an effort to crack down on poaching in recent years, with anyone caught on camera in the act getting a sentence of seven years in prison, according to The Telegraph.